According to Wikipedia, “Michel Eyquem, Sieur de Montaigne, also known as the Lord of Montaigne, was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance. He is known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight.” He was born February 28, 1533, and he died September 13, 1592. He had a French nationality. Over time he wrote several different essays in his life. According to Wikipedia, “The Essays of Michel de Montaigne are contained in three books and 107 chapters of varying length. They were originally written in Middle French and were originally published in the Kingdom of France. Montaigne’s stated design in writing, publishing and revising the Essays over the period from approximately 1570 to 1592 was to record ‘some traits of my character and of my humours.’ The Essays were first published in 1580 and cover a wide range of topics.” The essays were originally published in March 1580 and were originally written in Middle French. The book was originally titled Essais and wrote it in the literary genre essay. According to Wikipedia, “Montaigne wrote in a rather crafted rhetoric designed to intrigue and involve the reader, sometimes appearing to move in a stream-of-thought from topic to topic and at other times employing a structured style that gives more emphasis to the didactic nature of his work.” According to Britannica, “Montaigne’s Essays thus incorporate a profound skepticism concerning the human being’s dangerously inflated claims to knowledge and certainty but also assert that there is no greater achievement than the ability to accept one’s being without either contempt or illusion, in the full realization of its limitations and its richness.”
Why did Montaigne write these essays though? According to The Conversation, “Some scholars argued that Montaigne began writing his essays as a want-to-be Stoic, hardening himself against the horrors of the French civil and religious wars, and his grief at the loss of his best friend Étienne de La Boétie through dysentery.“
I am a student of the Ron Paul Curriculum, and I have had the chance to read many of Montaigne’s essays. I found many of them quite fascinating, but others I just was not into. Nevertheless, I really liked them all, and if I had the chance to read them again, I probably would, but it all depends on the essay that I would be reading. Tons of other people enjoyed the essays too, just like I did.
Some of Montaigne’s greatest essays are “Of Profit and Honesty”, “Of Repentance”, “Of Three Commerces”, “Of Diversion”, “Upon Some Verses of Virgil”, “Of Coaches”, “Of the Inconvenience of Greatness”, “Of the Art of Conference”, and many many more. There are three books to hold the one hundred and seven essays. Montaigne also edited his essays at various different points in his life. Sometimes it would be one to a few words, and other times he would edit whole passages! These essays were very influential back then and probably still are today.